A typology of northwestern Bantu gender systems

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Di Garbo , F & Verkerk , A 2022 , ' A typology of northwestern Bantu gender systems ' , Linguistics , vol. 60 , no. 4 , pp. 1169-1239 . https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2020-0217

Title: A typology of northwestern Bantu gender systems
Author: Di Garbo, Francesca; Verkerk, Annemarie
Contributor organization: Department of Languages
General Linguistics
Date: 2022-07
Language: eng
Number of pages: 71
Belongs to series: Linguistics
ISSN: 0024-3949
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2020-0217
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/346441
Abstract: Northwestern Bantu is the most linguistically diverse area of the Bantu-speaking world. Several unusual grammatical gender systems are reported for this area, but there has been a lack of comprehensive comparative studies. This article is a typological investigation of northwestern Bantu gender systems based on a sample of 179 languages. We study the distribution of various patterns of animacy-based agreement in the languages of the sample and in relationship with the Agreement Hierarchy. We find that animacy-based agreement is widespread in northwestern Bantu. If restricted to animate nouns, it tends to coexist in stable variation with syntactic agreement. When generalized to both animate and inanimate nouns, animacy-based agreement appears to contribute to the erosion of gender marking. In line with the prediction of the Agreement Hierarchy, we find that animacy-based agreement is prevalent with verbs and pronouns. Within the noun phrase, it spreads in ways that are suggestive of a hierarchy of syntactic integration between nouns and adnominal modifiers, which had gone unnoticed in the existing literature. These results have important implications for current models of Bantu gender systems and shed new light on animacy effects in the diachrony of gender more generally.
Subject: 6121 Languages
Peer reviewed: Yes
Rights: cc_by
Usage restriction: openAccess
Self-archived version: publishedVersion

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